It’s A Very Fine Day

, , , , , | Legal | January 13, 2019

(I work for a community police department. Even though I wear a police uniform, I’m not a police officer. There are certain aspects of police work we aren’t allowed to do, such as processing criminal cases, since we’re mostly tasked with traffic cases, granting permits, and managing gastronomic establishments, as well as events on public property. It’s a Saturday afternoon, which means our reception is closed and people need to ring to be let into the building. On our security camera, I see a very upset-looking man with his kid in tow coming up and ringing the doorbell. A Swiss canton is similar to a state in the United States; we have communal police, cantonal police, and federal police, all with different responsibilities.)

Me: *via door intercom* “Hello, how may I help you?”

Client: “I would like to press criminal charges.”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but we are unable to process criminal cases. You would need to talk to the cantonal police about that. I can give you the address.”

Client: “That’s okay, but I still need a written confirmation from you.”

(I’m not sure what he’s talking about, so I decide to let him into the lobby and talk face to face with him. Once he’s inside, he hands me a parking fine, which was issued maybe fifteen minutes ago.)

Client: “I need to press criminal charges. This fine has been issued erroneously and as such constitutes falsification of documents. I’ve made a picture of the parking meter to prove that I still had paid time on it.”

(He shows me the picture of the meter on his phone. Something a lot of people don’t know is that when we go around and read off those meters, there are a few indicators on the display that tell us at a glance which parking spaces still have time on them and which have expired. Even though on the photo it says he still has ten minutes on it, I can tell that the time on his parking space has expired. I naturally assume that he simply pressed a button for one of the adjacent parking spaces to check which still had some time and now lies to my face in order to get the fine revoked. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to inform him about all of this and instead point him towards making a formal complaint.)

Me: “I see. Well, that’s not really a case of falsification of documents; as such, there are no criminal charges you could press. The only thing you can do, if you believe that you’ve been falsely fined, is write a formal complaint where you state your case. You can add the picture you’ve taken as evidence for your case and one of our clerks in charge will look into it.”

Client: *explodes* “THAT’S NONSENSE! I’ll never get through with that. You’ll just claim that the time expired and I put in some money into the parking meter after the fine got issued.”

Me: “If that’s your worry, I could also claim the same right now, as I have no idea if you did or didn’t put additional money into the meter.”

(He raises the phone he’s been holding in his hand this entire time and attempts to take a photo of me. I hold up my hand over his phone’s camera lens, at which point he pulls back his phone.)


Me: “No, it isn’t. You aren’t allowed to take my picture without my permission. If you don’t want to get into any more trouble, I suggest you take my advice and write a formal complaint about your parking fine. There’s nothing more I can do for you.”

Client: *while exiting the building* “Where’s the next newspaper? I want to make this public, how these local police go around wrongfully fining people and treating them badly.”

Me: “That would be [Newspaper] on [Street]. Have a nice day!”

(We get a lot of people who threaten us to go to the media, and we usually shrug it off. Most of the time it’s an empty threat, anyway. After this incident, I looked up his license plate, which ended up being registered on his company, which helps wealthy people keep their taxes low and is located in the canton with the lowest taxes of the entire country. But he was still willing to make such a fuss and lie to what he would have to assume be a police officer for a fine worth around $40.)

Needs To Reorient Their Detective Skills

, , , , , , , | Friendly Legal Romantic | January 10, 2019

(My cousin is a very masculine, straight-acting police officer. The following exchange takes place in his precinct.)

Officer: “God, my wife is driving me nuts. Women, huh? Doesn’t your wife just make you crazy sometimes?”

Cousin: “I don’t have a wife.”

Officer: “Ah, sorry, I saw the ring. Divorced, huh?”

Cousin: “No.”

Officer: “Oh. Widowed?”

Cousin: “No, I’m definitely still married.”

Officer: *now very confused* “So, you do have a wife?”

Cousin: *starting to snicker at the routine* “No.”

Officer: *as several other cops within earshot also start to crack up* “I don’t understand.”

Sergeant: *yelling in exasperation* “He’s married to a man and therefore has a husband! Jesus Christ, [Officer], how do you expect to make detective with those deductive reasoning skills?”

Officer: “Ohhhhh.”

We Accept Cash, Check, And Attempted Assault

, , , , | Right | January 3, 2019

(I’m in the sheriff’s office getting fingerprinted for a security clearance at a new job. When I walk in there is a large sign that says, “Cash, Check, or Money Order only; no Credit/Debit accepted.” I go up to the window and pay my fee with cash, the nice receptionist lady gives me a clipboard with the forms to fill out, and I sit down to fill them out. A couple of minutes after I sit down another man comes in.)

Receptionist: “Okay, sir, the fee will be $6 per card; you need two, so the total is $12.”

(The man gives her his credit or debit card.)

Receptionist: “I’m sorry, sir, we only take cash, check, or money order. No debit or credit.”

Man: *raising voice* “What? No. It doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t accept my card!”

Receptionist: “Actually, sir, there is a large sign right there that says it. In addition, it says it on our website.”

Man: *very loudly* “Listen, lady! You are going to take my card! I need these done today and I don’t have time to go get cash!”

Receptionist: “I’m sorry, sir, I cannot take your card. You need to come back with a correct form of payment!”

(The man lunges forward and tries to reach for the receptionist, who quickly backs up. Almost immediately, two uniformed sheriff deputies rush through a door and tackle the man to the ground. He fights with them for a few seconds before they get the handcuffs on, and then they drag him away. The receptionist regains her composure and sits back down. I bring my forms up to her.)

Me: “Here you go. Wow, that was crazy. It’s as if he forgot he was in the sheriff’s department or something.”

Receptionist: “Yeah. Now, in addition to not getting his fingerprint cards, he’ll have an arrest on his record and probably won’t pass whatever check his work is requiring.”

To Protect And To Serve Misogyny

, , , , , , | Legal | October 30, 2018

(My old and very tricky car is hot wired and stolen, but only makes it halfway down the road before it breaks down. The thief takes my car seat covers and runs. I have to file a police report for insurance.)

Me: “Hey! Someone tried to steal my car. We found it, but I need to file a report.”

Police Officer: *laughs* “Aw, sweetheart. Are you sure it was stolen?”

Me: “Pretty sure, yeah.”

Police Officer: “Sure you didn’t just park it and forget where you left it? Girls sometimes forget things.”

Me: “Well, considering I tend to not rip all of the wiring out of my dashboard when I park it, I’m pretty sure.”

Police Officer: “Oh. Right. That makes sense.”

The Sleeping Dragon Can Stop To Give Directions

, , , , | Hopeless | October 13, 2018

(My brother and I are around 20 years old, and we go on a holiday in China together. Due to our parents’ concern about our lack of language skills, we book a guided tour, but on our very first evening in Beijing, we have time to explore the city by ourselves. We take a tram to the city center and have a nice evening, and everything goes well until we get back to the station near our hotel. Then, we get lost. Keep in mind that it is already around 10:30 pm when this all happens. The station is quite large and has several exits on different streets, and even though we have a map, we can’t figure out in which direction our hotel is. Luckily, we spot a police station on the other side of the street and go there to ask for directions.)

Me: “Excuse me, we got lost. This—” *points on map* “—is our hotel. Which direction is it?”

(The two policemen shrug and answer something in Chinese. I figure they don’t speak English, so I try to explain our problem through gestures and with some more pointing. They study the map for some time, talk among themselves and ask us some things, to which I always have to answer, “Sorry, I don’t understand.” This goes on for some minutes, and then one of the policemen goes outside. The other one shows us to some seats and offers us cookies. Then, the policeman outside starts shouting something. At least twenty passers-by from the — not very crowded — street start gathering around him and he leads them inside. A young man starts talking to me in English.)

Young Man #1: “Hey! How can we help you?”

Me: “Hi! We need to get to our hotel, but we got lost!”

Young Man #1: “Which hotel is it? Do you have an address?”

Me: *taking out the map again* “It’s right here—” *points* “—and this is the tram station out there—” *points* “—but we can’t read the street signs and don’t know which direction it is.”

(The young man starts talking to the group in Chinese again. Some people leave.)

Young Man #2: “Don’t worry; we’ll figure this out. We’re trying to find the best solution to get you to your hotel.”

(After some more minutes:)

Young Man #1: “So, this guy—” *he points at an elderly Chinese man with a hat* “—knows the way, but it’s a bit complicated from here. We don’t want you to get lost again, so he’ll walk you there. He can’t speak English; just follow him. Have a good time in China!”

(With that, the rest of the crowd dissipated, everyone smiling and waving at us, except for the man with the hat. He gestured at us to follow him, which we did. What followed was an at least fifteen-minute walk through Beijing, until we could see our hotel at the next crossroads. The man pointed at it and waved at us. We waved, too, took some bows, and thanked him in English. He smiled and started leaving. To this day, I am still amazed by how many people went out of their way to help some lost tourists and the kindness they showed us. Now, whenever I travel abroad, I make sure to at least be able to say “thank you” in the respective country’s language.)